I wish 2008 could end on a good note in politics and on political issues. As it currently stands the only god news that seems to exist is that the price of oil and gas is at one of the lowest prices in recent years. Seeing as how that oil fuels our economy and controls the cost of almost everything else, that is quite important. However, the low prices, like good news, are also going to be short lived.
With war breaking out between Palestinians and Israelis, warnings of the collapse of the auto industry, and the promise to of more and more federal bailouts arrived at by the borrowing of more and more money, most of the news is bleak. But it is recent events in Illinois that monopolize the current events which closes 2008 and it does so on an unfortunately pessimistic note.
The gall of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has reached a deafening crescendo.
Accepting for a moment the undeniable innocence before guilt precedence, it still takes an incredible amount of gall to try to appoint someone to a United States Senate seat while federal prosecutors are building a case and the state legislature is holding impeachments hearing against you for trying to sell the very same seat your are filling. You would think that given the circumstances, Blogojevich might just be concerned with peoples faith in government. You would think that maybe, just maybe Blago could understand that the atmosphere surrounding him holds so much doubt about the ability of his selcetion and the reasons behind his selection to fill President-Elect Obama’s vacated senate seat, are so questionable that he should hold off.
Instead, Blogaojevich tries to convince people that he is the only one truly concerned with the business of the people. Only he wants the business of government to go on , unhindered by politics and uninterrupted by unimportant distractions.
In trying to name a replacement for Obama in the U.S. Senate under the existing circumstances, Blagojevich is promulgating a perception into 2009 that is regretful.
He is picking up the final straw that will break the camels back and really help Americans to move closer to believing that our elected officials are worthless.
That is a shame because I do know that there are many truly sincere individuals serving in elected office. I know that there are many men and women who could be making substantially more money in the private sector than in the public sector but forgo that money for service.
I also know that many of those elected officials really work hard and give much more than they get. A sincere politicians, puts people before profit. They sacrifice time with friends and family and they listen to the problems of thousands of people each week or month while their own struggles are put on hold.
Believe it or not a sincere politician does work quite hard. If they want to continue in their job, they are doing a lot more than sitting on Capitol Hill and delivering a speech. A good politician is attending the events in their districts that their constituents are attending. The special events, the monthly meetings, whatever it is, they are there. And believe me, there is a lot of happenings that they must be a part of. Happenings that are not arranged around their schedules. Which means their own family barbecue, child’s after school event or even the moment they may want to simply gather their own thoughts are all secondary to that of the needs of their constituents.
Those people are serving because they want to make a difference. They want to make life better for us through a government that is suppose to serve us. They are the people who do not grab the headlines due to the “if it bleeds, it reads” thinking of the media. They’re just doing their jobs, so it does not really create any interest.
But the Blagojeviches of the world do grab the headlines.
Those who are doing their jobs wrong and those using their jobs for wrongdoing get our attention, at least when they are caught.
Unfortunately, there are many who are involved in wrongdoing and we hear about them all the time. The constant flow of stories involving, elected officials engaging in corrupt activity helps to cement the perception that government and government officials are corrupt.
In New Jersey, Governor Jim McGreevey took the damaging tradition of political patronage to an all time height of disgust when he put the care of Homeland Security for New Jersey up to a lover who he was having a clandestine affair with. The rationale for giving his lover the job was based on the fact that McGreevey liked the sexual positions that they shared together, not that his lover was qualified for the position of Homeland Security. There were also some shady financial arrangements that the Governor was involved in. The investigation of those financial activities discovered the affair and the reasons behind the appointment of an unqualified person to an important job involving the safety and security of New Jerseyans.
To take attention off of the actual wrongdoing and criminal activities, McGreevey came out and announced that he would resign because he was a “gay American”. The tactic worked. A shocked nation, talked more about McGreevey being gay than they did about the criminal conduct which forced him out of out office.
Not only did McGreevey’s political insincerity help to promote negative opinions about public servants, his resignation did too. His resignation actually tried to exploit homosexuality. He used it to try to play victim rather victimizer.
Caught, instead of making a sincere apology for his financial shenanigans and risking the lives of New Jersey residents by using patronage to fill the Homeland Security position with an unqualified director, McGreevey used homosexuality to take the sting out of it all. Some even called McGreevey brave and courageous. The man was cheating on his wife, cheating tax payers, jeopardizing lives and covering it all up, yet he was brave and courageous!?
The whole incident was an example of what Americans have come to believe about politicians……they’re in it for themselves and to save their own skin. McGreevey’s resignation and apology helped further advance that impression.
Not to be outdone, New York tried to keep up with Joneses. Their former Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer became Governor and about 14 months into his first term as the Governor, it was discovered that he spent over $80,000.00 on high priced call girls that he was illegally soliciting.
From former Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana and former President William Jefferson Clinton, Americans have heard and continue hearing about more and more political corruption each day.
William Jefferson was found with hundreds of thousands of dollars in his freezer that he wrongfully obtained and claimed he did nothing wrong. President Bill Clinton lied before a grand jury and came before the American and swore that he didn’twhen in fact, he did. He even claimed that your interpretation of whether he lied or not came down to how you define the word “is”.
The constant chorus of corruption that gains our attention has been depressing and discouraging and it has simply been accentuated but Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. His naming Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat that he is accused of trying to sell only adds an exclamation mark to the existing perception of rampant public corruption. Just having the nerve to move ahead with the appointment is a slap in our face. It does not even begin to deal with Burriss’ qualifications or issues positions.
Roland Burrss is an old line, liberal Democrat party machine hack. By accepting Rod Blagojevich’s tainted, highly questionable appointment to the U.S. Senate, Burris is also showing us that he lacks any of the basic good judgment that a representative leader should have. His acceptance of such a tainted nominarion from such a tainted Governor demonstrates that Burriss is more interested in elevating himself than he is in elevating the quality of life of the people he would represent.
It is heartening to know that there are measures which can still rectify any wrongdoing in this case. Ultimately, a clause in the U.S. constitution allows the Congress final say in seating members.
But their too politics has been corrupted. In the 70’s a Democrat led U.S. Senate denied seating a Republican who won election in New Hampshire.
In the 80’s the Democrat led House of Representatives refused to seat a Republican who won election to congress from Indiana.
In both cases, the elections were close, the state’s Secretary’s of State certified the elections, but politics and personal power prevailed. Democrats trumped democracy and appointed their partisan preferences over the will of the people.
So with 2009 ahead of us we are looking towards a year with a new President who has promised change but based on how 2008 ended, can we believe in that change? Can we believe in anything that comes out of any government anymore.
Here in New Jersey, I hold out hope.
Here in New Jersey Republicans have been offering reforms that take steps to open up the process of government and allow concerned citizens to see facts.
State Senator Joe Pennachio recently presented a bill that would put the states budget, in all of its detail, on the internet for the public to see.
State Senator Jennifer Beck has presented bills to reform ethics and other measures that would eliminate some of the benefits that corrupt New Jersey politicians could enjoy even after found guilty of their dastardly deeds.
Of course politics being politics, Democrats in control of the process oppose these measures but thankfully there is an election in 2009. An election in New Jersey that can offer us the opportunity to help change the negative perceptions of public service and to eliminate corruption from government.
By electing reformers and rejecting those who are roadblocks to reform, we may begin to eliminate the corruption that has led us to lose faith in government. Maybe. That is up to us, the voters. So although corruption surrounding the replacement of a senator for the vacancy left by our incoming President grabs the headline as 2008 ends, the elections of 2009 hold out hope for bringing about the the type of change that we really need.